(BPT) - October is National Financial Planning Month, a time when we traditionally slow down, check in and make some progress toward our long-term financial goals. Big-picture money objectives may feel difficult right now, while we grapple with the economic fallout from the pandemic and struggle to meet immediate financial needs. Nearly half of Americans are worried about their financial future, according to Prudential’s 2020 Financial Wellness Census, and most people perceive their financial mobility as fixed.

In this current climate, it’s important to take stock of our new reality, adjust our strategies and move toward practicing financial wellness, even if financial security feels temporarily out of reach. Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and Prudential’s Financial Wellness Advocate, is here to guide us through some steps for looking to the future with hope:

1) Make Time for Your Money: You cannot plan for the future if you do not know where you are now. Setting consistent times and days to sit down and look at your statements, bills and paychecks goes a long way in feeling confident about your financial ability — no matter how much is in the bank. The more you familiarize yourself with your situation, the less scary it all becomes.

2) Focus On What You Can Control: Uncertainty is more prevalent than ever during the pandemic. Variables like employment stability and stimulus checks can leave us feeling stressed. As much as you can, let go of what lies outside your control. Instead turn your energy toward the activities where your efforts make an impact, like reallocating your savings and reevaluating your expenses.

3) Tune In To Your Feelings: Emotions about money can be messy. Anxiety, insecurity or fear can cause us to react disproportionately to financial situations, often prompting us to extremely restrict or overspend. Begin Financial Planning Month by examining your emotional state these days and identifying how your feelings may influence your decision-making ability.

4) Look to Your Community: Those of us who formerly prided ourselves on being self-sufficient are turning to our communities, neighbors and families for support — emotionally and financially. This can be hard to come to terms with, but also has the power to draw us closer together and create a future in which we take care of each other. Now is the time to put shame on the shelf and learn about the community resources at our disposal.

5) Make an Adaptable Plan: Looking long-term might be daunting right now. Make the best plans you can with the information available to you now, and expect to change them as your situation evolves. Remember, you are adaptable and capable of responding to adversity. These plans do not need to be set in stone, but having them in place will help you feel proactive and hopeful about your financial future.

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